For me, turning 24 years old has much more meaning than the much vaunted 25, also known as the quarter century mark. Granted when I do turn 25 next year, it will occur on the very special numerical date of 12/12/12, and it is going to be awesome (not to mention my automobile insurance will take a plunge to the cheap side.) Nonetheless, I turned 24 years of age yesterday, and with the usual lack of fanfare that is my birthdays over with, it is time to write down some random thoughts on the significance (if any) of turning 24.
Well, my parents can no longer claim me as a dependent (goodbye tax deductions, sorry Mother). So while turning the age pf 21 may traditionally signaled the beginning of adulthood and all the boozed up debauchery that goes along with it, in America nothing informs you of your adultness quite like having to file your own taxes. Here is to a life long tenure of paying annual tributes to "the man". Good thing we live amongst the age of great technology where there are programs that will allow me to file my own taxes no matter how complicated things get (right, like I make enough money to even begin to talk about deductions and itemizing). You know what would have been the perfect birthday present? Turbotax.
Being patently Chinese (it annoys me when people say something is "patently" false), I am infinitely familiar with the Chinese zodiac. In Chinese culture, each new year is represented by an animal from the zodiac, in which there are 12. Thus every 12 years the rotation starts all over again. Birthdays in multiples of 12 are quite significant because the year of the particular zodiac in which you are born will repeat itself. I was born in 1987, the year of the rabbit. During the year when i turn 12, it was the year of the rabbit once again. No surprise, 2011 is the year of the rabbit, when I turned 24. Though sadly you certainly don't receive more Lunar New Year money for being the same birth zodiac animal as the current year (disregard nearly 3000 years of culture and start a new tradition anyone?).
Age of 24 also have educational ambition implications for me. According to the what now seemed highly naive plan, I was suppose to finish graduate school at 24, because that was the plan right? Graduate from high school at 18, four years of undergrad makes 22, and 2 years of graduate school leaves us with 24 (I can only laugh). So much for that, as I am just barely past half a year finished with my undergraduate studies. Whether it was due to personal failure of character (note: lazy) or economic situations (because having enough classes to take was never a problem during my tenure at SFSU..), things just did not work out as plan.
Not only did I finish undergrad a year late, but to make matters worse I probably won't start my graduate studies for at least another year and a half (not like I am just sitting at home twiddling my thumbs - it is a matter of the application's necessities). So at this point it looks like I won't be done with the original plan at 24 until I am 28! Now on appearance this makes it looks like I am taking up something major like anything related to a hospital or an science lab - disciplines that naturally take a relatively long period to accomplish. But no, all I am going for is a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). So perhaps I am just a bit behind the curve?
Honestly, I don't think so. As I often tell my peers, our generation will live a really long time. The natural positive progression of medical technology, dietary (well, some of us) and hygiene means barring catastrophic acts of god (that would be natural disasters for your atheists) or nuclear annihilation, me and you will be seeing plenty of each other for decades to come. This means it is perfectly okay for me to be behind schedule on my educational goals set many years ago. So what if by the time I get my masters I will be at the twilight of my twenties? My asian genes promise that I will look just the same I do today (maybe even better).
All the being established, for me being 24 years old means one of those life transitions (though it kind of started a bit before that.) I am indeed done with undergrad, and have joined the workforce (99% in the house). No longer do I have to slave through a day of books sand numbers and come back home and still have to think about it some more. Something inherently liberating about leaving work and not have to think about it until the next day. Time is the thing that returns a bit to you, allowing me to spend more time with important people (or you know, watching lots of television).
The perspective and focus changes a fair bit. It may be incredibly cliche, but people do start to look at and wonder about what to do with the rest of their life once they have finished their undergraduate work. It is somehow that innate sense of boundary of what is planned for you and what you will plan for yourself. Having typical Chinese parents means education all the way up to undergrad is a given, but anything after that is entirely up to me.
So that has been the meaning of turning 24 years old. Most importantly, 24 it is just a nice round and even number - much better looking than 25.